Research carried out by Dr Hugh Kirkman, a leading researcher in marine and coastal management and assessment, including seagrass ecology, shows that oil spills from an expanded port development in Westernport Bay could damage large areas of globally significant seagrass, mangrove and saltmarsh.
The plant habitats of Western Port are under continual threat. Anthropogenic impacts from runoff, dredging, nutrient addition, and changed hydrology are reinforced by climate change and natural disturbance to put Western Port in a vulnerable position.
For seagrass the main threat is turbidity from eroding edges, runoff and disturbance of areas already denuded of seagrass.
For mangrove the main threat is clearing them and possible oil spills. Salt marsh is vulnerable to clearing and a lack of respect for its value.